Thank you to Cornerstone Digital for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review
I must confess that I have not read Ready Player One, the much talked and written about first novel by Ernest Cline. I remember a friend telling me she had read it and that I really must read it as a matter of urgency, to which I am sure I replied "of course I will" and then promptly got caught up reading something else. I was, however sure that I had bought it, when I started reading this I went to find it and I found out I was wrong. Anyway I have rectified the case of not having Ready Player One by buying a shiny new copy of which I am going to start reading tonight.
So now that I have got my rambling out the way, let's talk about Armada. It's epic, it is majorly, fantastically geeky, full of wonderful pop culture references and most of all it is just an amazing joy to read.
Zack Lightman, a high school student is sitting in his classroom one day when he sees an alien spaceship. The fact that it is an alien spaceship is off course a mild shock to him but the fact that said alien spaceship is from the computer game he has logged hundreds of hours playing totally floors him.
He puts it down to watching, playing and reading too much sci-fi. He inherited his love of sci-fi from his late father who has left behind a treasure trove of all things nerdy. Videos of movies such as The Last Starfighter, computer games and diaries. In these diaries Zack remembers reading about something unsettling, something which means that the flying saucer that he saw maybe wasn't a figment of his imagination.
Zack looks again at his father's diaries but still he dismisses the content of them once more as the ravings of a teenage gamer and goes back to this computer games, or should I say game - Armada, a flight simulator. In the game you take control of a drone and try to protect Earth from aliens. He loves it, his friends love it and the owner of the gaming shop he works in loves it too. They also love playing Terra Firma a game by the same software company as Armada which is based on Earth with the player taking control of massive robots to defend the Earth from those pesky aliens.
Zack is good at Armada, so good he is in the top ten of the worldwide rankings, each night he logs on and plays against the other nine as well as millions of other players around the world. One night an epic battle takes place around the alien planet, Zack and his fellow pilots try to protect a probe that is going to melt the planets icy surface but the mission fails, it all feels so real to Zack but at the end of the day it is just a game.
The following day Zack is back at school and once more he gets a shock, an Earth Defence Alliance ship lands outside the school, the big shock, well there is two - his entire school sees it and the second shock? The crew of the ship have come for him. Will he go? Will he take off with a crew of strangers who seem to have came from his favourite video game, Hell Yes! He goes!!
And so begins the OMFG bit of the book, OMFG because it is so crazily possible! So as not spoil to much for you I will try to condense it for you! Zach is taken to a secret base, he is told that the alien threat is real and not only is it real, Armada and Terra Firma have been used as training simulators to teach millions of us how to defend Earth from the aliens of Europa. Zach is shown a film that shows how this threat came about in the first place and no sooner has he seen it his skills are put straight to use.
He meets many of the top players of both Armada and Terra Firma, including Lex who Zack immediately crushes on and the rest of the players who make up the top ten, they are people of both sexes and from every walk of life, they will be his family while they prepare for what is to come, a wave of alien invaders.
Armada was just amazing, not reading Ready Player One may actually have been a good thing as I don't have that to compare this too, Armada just ticked all my boxes, it had an exciting story line, it had a conspiracy theory brought to life, alien planets and most of all I loved the characters, they are really believable, funny and engaging. They are all full of funny, nerdy banter which I totally relate too, the book is peppered with nods to everything from Queen to Thor's hammer.
I loved this, it is one of these rare books that lives with you afterwords, one to be discussed over and over again, it is a modern classic.